Bradford eager to end 10-year wait for trophy

Bradford head coach Rohan Smith.

Bradford head coach Rohan Smith.

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Ten years ago, Super League champions Bradford Bulls defeated NRL victors Wests Tigers to lift the World Club Challenge.

They may finally secure some more silverware for the first time since tomorrow but, a decade ago, no one could have ever imagined it would be in a competition entitled the Championship Shield.

Bradford’s alarming descent – they finished a woeful fifth in the Championship this season two years after suffering relegation – has been well-documented.

Having missed out on the chance to fight for promotion, Rogan Smith’s side are left with this non-descript final at Odsal tomorrow.

A 36-22 victory over Dewsbury Rams saw them secure their place against a Sheffield Eagles side who have endured their own issues of late, the South Yorkshire side facing a mounting financial crisis that threatens its very survival.

Bradford beat them 80-0 just a fortnight ago and Australian Smith said: “It would be a positive finish to a rollercoaster four months since I got here.

“There have been some highs and lows since I’ve been here and a lot to deal with as a club – not just a team – so I’m all about getting on with the job and what comes next is the most important thing.

“That is this weekend’s game and putting in a strong performance against Sheffield.

“Then we can reflect and build towards 2017.”

London Broncos-bound captain Adrian Purtell returns from injury but winger Ethan Ryan misses out through an injury picked up last week.

Kurt Haggerty comes back into the fold after his two-game ban in place of Under 19s loose forward James Bentley, whilst Epalahame Lauaki takes Liam Kirk’s place.

Smith continued: “Two weeks ago is long gone but we’re looking for a performance in a similar vein.

“I envisage that Sheffield are going to throw everything at us early in the game to try and disrupt us and build their own confidence.

“There are a lot of experienced players in that Sheffield team who have been there and done it on the big occasion,” explained Smith.

“There always seems to be a dilemma every time they are about to play Bradford, so I’m not reading too much into that (financial issues).

“I think players play for the love of the game, not money, and I expect Sheffield to come and play strongly.”

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